the weblog of Alan Knox

Scripture… As We Live It #20

Posted by on Sep 21, 2008 in as we live it, elders, office, scripture | 10 comments

Here is the 20th installment of “Scripture… As We Live It“:

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out congratulating him for being such a good leader, by making decisions and exercising his rightful authority as a leader of the church. (3 John 9-10 re-mix)


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  1. 9-21-2008

    I am not sure what you mean by this one. Diotrephes is rejecting the Apostolic authority and rejecting the emmisaries (brothers) sent by the Apostle who are coming to bring correction. Right? So is it your intent to imply that any pastor today who makes a decision is the equivalent of Diotrephes who rejects the teaching of the Apostles?

    Maybe you could give me some context for what you have in mind Alan. Thanks.

  2. 9-21-2008

    Joe (JR),

    Yes, Diotrephes was wrong in making this decision. But, we often make leadership all about decision-making.


  3. 9-22-2008

    Okay, but that is not what this passage is really talking about. Is it? The Elders were upset because Brothers who were taking the truth of the Gospel were rejected and Diotrephes was refusing the authority of the Elders who sent the brothers. The problem here is not that Diotrephes was making decisions, but that he was rejecting the Elder’s who seem to have some authority over this church (how I am not sure since I have not done a real deep study) and ultimately he was rejecting the mandate of the church to support the spread of the Gospel. This is not the same as saying, “leaders make too many decisions.” Is it? Again, are you suggesting that leaders who focus too much on decision making are the same as this man?

    IMHO, you seem to be imposing your view of leadership on a very specific text because it suits your purpose. Is this a good model of how we should “interpret” Scripture?

    Educate me brother if I am missing something either in your post or in the passage itself. Thanks 🙂

  4. 9-22-2008

    Joe (JR),

    It hard to know exactly what relationship Diotrephes has to the church. Most of the commentaries that I’ve read suggest that Diotrephes was one of the elders of the church. Perhaps Gaius was another one of the elders, but again, we don’t really know.

    What we know is that Diotrephes love to be pre-eminent – to have the first place, or the most important position. He demonstrated this by making decision for the church, telling the church who they could or could not support – even putting people out of the church when they go against his decision. So, yeah, I think there is an element concerning decision making in this short letter.


  5. 9-22-2008

    PS, for the record, I made a mistake in my first post when I said the “Apostles” were being rejected. In my latest post I corrected this since the letter is written from the “Elder” (v. 1)

  6. 9-22-2008

    Ah, so this may be the crux of what I want to understand. Given the way you phrased the verse, would you conclude Alan that ALL decision making is “authoritarian” or just SOME kinds of decisions?

  7. 9-22-2008

    Joe (JR),

    How can a person make a decision for another person without also exercising authority over that person? If we exercise authority over a person, then we violate what Jesus said about leaders.

    Leaders should definitely be part of corporate decision making, when corporate decisions must be made.


  8. 9-22-2008

    I think you make a good point. I am just not sure that doing it through this passage is a sound hermeneutic, but that is just my humble opinion.

    Thanks for your insights brother. 🙂

  9. 9-22-2008

    Joe (JR),

    This was not intended as a hermeneutic… just the opposite. I was trying to get people to think about the modern relationship between leadership and decision-making / authority. Apparently, I was successful. 🙂

    By the way, the interesting thing is that I wrote this post over a month ago. I write the “As we live it posts” several weeks in advance. I’ve already written the posts for October. It was a “coincidence” that this post preceded the next one about leadership and decision-making.


  10. 9-23-2008

    I really like how you strike a line through the words and then put the newly-revised-version-based-on-how-we-live words in a new color. It made it very clear what you were about here. But then it could be that I am just more awake this time.

    I like it.

    But not just the format.